Category Archives: Acupuncture

Return to the Source: A Fall Reflection

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just as the earth cycles through the seasons, our energy ebbs and flows, prompting us to synchronize with nature’s rhythm and coordinate our actions with the cadence of the world we occupy. The fall season is a transition from abundance and outward exertion to inward consolidation and contemplation. In preparation for our winter slumber, we are asked to evaluate what to retain and what to cast aside before the next creative cycle begins. It is no coincidence that so many of the holidays this time of year focus on self-reflection, inward inventory, acknowledging ends, and embracing new beginnings. With each shedding of our old skin, the opportunity for growth increases.

We can feel the winds of change outside, briskly stirring up what is stale and rootless and clearing the space for a crisp new start. While on the surface things appear to be in a state of decline, this stark new landscape is actually a clean slate, full of untapped potential and endless possibility. As leaves start to whither and return to the earth, we too must turn from superficial distractions and reconnect with our core values and beliefs. This period of introspection marks a return home, asking us to begin the slow process of redefining our goals, reevaluating our choices, and connecting with our inherent talents and pressing ambitions.

Fall is the season of the lung, recipient and envoy of the vital force that keeps us alive and inspired. Each breathe is a new opportunity to receive, discern, and release, creating the tempo with which we live our lives and allowing us to be present, fully participating in every moment and experience. The element associated with fall is metal, illuminator of truth. It retains it’s integrity regardless of the conditions to which it is exposed and unassumingly reveals the elegance and power of simplicity. As we take cue and tune in to our most basic needs, we are given the opportunity for a complete re-set, shedding old beliefs in search of a more resonant truth.

While letting go of the past can be disquieting, it carries the promise of wisdom and insight as we cut the chains of old ideals and begin anew with clear resolve and a fresh sense of purpose. Let us use this precious time to gather our potential, separate out the extraneous and have the courage to become our most magnificent selves.

The Body Clock: Channel Theory and our Daily Energetic Cycle

“Everything turns in circles and spirals with the cosmic heart until infinity. ” – Suzy Kassem

Do you always wake at the same time of night or notice energy peaks and dips at certain times of day? In Chinese Medicine theory our body has a daily cycle, dominated in time blocks by each organ system. By observing our energy at these times, we can identify aspects of ourselves that are out of balance and calling for our attention. In the same respect, by aligning our activities with our body’s natural energy cycle, we can optimize our strengths and perform at our peak. The body clock is broken down as follows:

3-5am – Lung – recipient of vital force; master of order and reduction; controls the rhythm of our existence through the breath. The lung is our connection between the self and outside world and between the body and mind. It helps us discriminate, purify, clear internal clutter, and create space for inspiration. Pathology: grief.

5-7am – Large Intestine – eliminator of waste and turbidity. The large intestine helps us to discern what to keep and what we can discard. By letting go of the unnecessary, it aids the lung by making space for what we truly want and need.

7-9am – Stomach – converter of food to fuel; source of sustenance and care. The stomach receives and ripens our food and fluids and aids the spleen in transforming raw material into nourishment.

9-11am – Spleen – processor, transformer, transporter; digestion of food and information; houses intellect, thought, and concentration. The spleen converts and distributes vital energy to our body, provides our mental focus, and allows us to interpret, evaluate and retain information. Pathology: worry, over-thinking.

11am-1pm – Heart – house of our spirit; seat of our consciousness; origin of our capacity for understanding one another. The heart does not force connections or will what it feels – it acknowledges what is and shines a light on personal truth. All mental distress is mediated through the heart. Pathology: over-excitability, mania.

1pm-3pm – Small Intestine – separator of pure from impure; provider of transparency and lucidity. The small intestine aids the heart by clearing agitation so we may differentiate right from wrong, distinguish relevant from irrelevant, and act with unclouded judgment.

3pm-5pm – Urinary Bladder – filtration and elimination of waste. The urinary bladder aids the kidney in our spiritual evolution by helping us to release harassing thoughts, let go of past traumas, and go with the flow.

5pm-7pm – Kidney – wellspring of life; source of reproduction and growth; foundation of all the body’s energy from birth to old age. The kidney houses our ability to perceive our personal destiny and our willpower to see it through. It is about what came before us and what we’ll leave behind. Pathology: fear.

7pm-9pm – Pericardium – protector of the heart; regulator of all the other forces of the body; first line of defense against external aggression. The pericardium receives and buffers disruption to our system, shielding us from emotional turbulence and spiritual unrest.

9pm-11pm – San Jiao – metabolic regulator; responsible for homeostasis, equilibrium and system integration. The san jiao connects all the organ systems of the body, making sure our energy is evenly distributed and we remain oriented and balanced.

11pm-1am – Gall Bladder – promotes good judgment and foresight; responsible for our grit, decisiveness and initiative. The gall bladder allows us to make confident, measured decisions so that we may act with poise, conviction and courage.

1am-3pm – Liver – reservoir of stamina; commander of action, movement, and steady disposition; The liver provides us with a clear vision for the future and the motivation, energy and even temperament to see it through. Pathology: depression, anger.

Year of the Yin Fire Rooster

rooster“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.” – Muhammad Ali

On January 28th – the Lunar New Year – we said goodbye to the capricious unpredictable Yang Fire Monkey and welcomed the more placid and practical Yin Fire Rooster. For many this calmer energy will be a welcome change. Roosters are characterized as organized, practical, decisive, territorial and particular. They posses strong ideals, are honest and critical, and value fidelity, punctuality, and proper behavior. They are leaders, who’s proud crow at dawn is a daily call to action, tirelessly commanding us to wake up and rise!

Because this is a yin-fire year there is an undercurrent of volatility, though it will not feel as chaotic as last year. Emotions will rise and reactivity will be heightened, but due to the changeability of fire, these bursts will be short-lived. Because there is a yin or feminine aspect to this fire, the change it provokes has the potential to be warm and healing. This symbolic light will help to illuminate unresolved conflict and hidden truths, allowing us to confront the darker aspects of ourselves and grow as a result. If we can fine-tune and articulate our own principles and ideologies while remaining open to others, there is great potential for personal elevation and social transformation.

Personally, this will be year of enhanced intuition, heightened communication, and emotional sentimentality. The flash of the fire element can bring on quick change of emotions, short-lived anger, fear and anxiety. We need to be wise about where we spend our energy and choose our fights with care. On the whole, people will be more warm-hearted, charismatic, and charming and it will be easier to find happiness in simple pleasures. There is an optimistic aspect to the fire element that encourages playfulness and joy. In this coming year, individual prosperity will come in the form of self-realization, group-oriented action, and small, quiet acts of kindness.

Socially, this will be an important year for community. As clashes in values and beliefs come the forefront we will start to see a restructuring of institutions and a shift in thoughts, actions and influence. Chickens are social animals, so during this time people will feel more connected to one other and find comfort in the gathering of like-minded individuals. There will be power in masses and change will come through collaboration and assembling together. Charismatic leaders will emerge and with them a revival of hope and renewal of strength.


Information for this post was obtained from the following sources. Check them out
for a more in-depth look at the year ahead:


Preparing the Nest

fall leaf on ground“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

I love the ritual of acknowledging an ending and embracing a new beginning and I find myself to be particularly reflective this time of year. Fall is a time for letting go of things that are no longer of value to us, so we can descend toward the earth for our winter slumber with a clear mind and heart, ready to receive nourishment, fresh vision, and new wisdom.

Just as the trees are shedding their leaves and animals are going underground and preparing their nests, fall represents for us a chance to return to the source and do an inward inventory of what we need to release in order to move forward. While outwardly things appear to be in a state of decline, it is just an old skin being shed, relieving us of the past so we can clean house internally and move in a direction that supports the needs of our spirit.

This year, the autumn equinox fell on the same day as Yom Kippur, a day to atone for the past and start anew. As I sat in reflection, I realized the major incidents that repeatedly came to my mind, were things from way back in my past. Had I truly not forgiven myself?

In TCM theory, every channel has a corresponding emotion. The emotion associated with fall and the lung channel is grief, a state that requires acceptance of what is and the fluidity to move through it. Held for too long, it can leave us cold and detached, interrupting the flow of our qi and blocking its ability to facilitate transformation.

With the change in season comes a new opportunity for clarity, prompting us to shed the past and simplify as we move toward the future. Just like metal, the element that so aptly represents the season, we can find power in reduction. The focus of my meditation this fall will be forgiveness. What will you let go of to make your nest clutter-free?

Spring Allergy Rx

pollenSpring is the season of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation. As we wait in anticipation for the buds to bloom and the earth to become lush and vibrant, some of us are also faced with the prospect of spring allergies. Red watery eyes, itchy throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and sinus pressure are just some of the possible symptoms that can inhibit our enjoyment of the warmer weather. Right now we are at a crucial point in the season to intercept allergy symptoms before they begin. The following strategies can help:

Acupuncture: In a feature article on Web MD reviewing natural strategies for the treatment of allergies, Colette Bouchez writes, “In a small but significant study of 26 hay fever patients published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture reduced symptoms in all 26 — without side effects. A second study of some 72 people totally eliminated symptoms in more than half, with just two treatments. “ (See full article at

What distinguishes acupuncture from other traditional allergy treatments is that it is geared toward boosting the immune system to enable our bodies to fight external allergens. Each treatment is customized to the patient based on the individual presentation and therefore really targets the root of what’s causing the reaction. For best results, begin treatments before any major symptoms appear.

Herbal Medicine: Many traditional allergy medications, while temporarily effective, also come with an array of side effects. One of the many benefits of Chinese herbal medicine is that formulas are virtually side effect free. Customizable formulas are chosen based on the distinct pattern that a patient is showing so as to specifically address an imbalance in the system. Since the formulas are designed to target the root of what is causing the symptom, rather than the symptom itself, they do not usually need to be taken long-term.

Diet: When it comes to seasonal allergies, simple dietary adjustments can be quite effective. Foods that help promote the smooth functioning of the Liver/Gallbladder channel systems (which are dominant this time of year) often help reduce spring allergy symptoms. These foods tend to be sour in flavor and green in color. Some examples include bok choy, green apple, apricot, berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, plums, pineapple, dandelion, and vinegar. Alcohol and greasy or spicy foods should be limited and if there is a lot of phlegm or congestion, reduce the consumption of sugar and dairy.

Movement: Based on what we see happening around us in nature, it is not surprising that during the spring our bodies crave movement. This is the time of year to increase activity, stretch our limbs, and keep energy circulating. Specific types of movements to target the channels dominant in the spring include lateral stretches that open up the side body and neck, exercises that involve hip rotation, and strengthening and stretching of the inner and outer thighs and shins.

Don’t let allergies put a damper on your spring! By being proactive you can seriously reduce the effects of external allergens on your body and enjoy the beauty of the season.

5 Tips for Transitioning Smoothly into Spring

shutterstock_182622356“Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally.” –Nei Jing

One of the most anticipated seasonal transitions is winter to spring. After a long period of hibernation and reflection, our bodies are primed and ready for movement and active expression. As the days get progressively longer and incrementally warmer, our spirit, much like the buds starting to form on the trees, is longing to burst forth and bloom. While these erratic transitional weeks can feel restraining, by employing these simple steps we can handle the fluctuations with grace and enter into the next phase of nature’s cycle with ease.

1. Get Up and Go! – Spring is the season of the Liver channel and it’s corresponding element of Wood. It is a time of rebirth, reawakening, growth and expansion – a metamorphosis best realized through action. To keep joints healthy and muscles and tendons supple, we are encouraged to create heat in the body and extend our limbs. So open up and stretch toward the sun, raise your heart rate, explore deep twists and side bends, tap into your creativity and give physical expression to your ambitions!

2. Get Ahead of your Allergies – While seasonal allergies can put a serious damper on our enjoyment of the warmer weather, don’t fear the impending pollen! Herbal medicine combined with regular acupuncture can get you through the season virtually symptom free. For best results, start treatments before your symptoms appear. If you do suffer from seasonal allergies some good foods to incorporate into your diet include ginger, onions, garlic, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beets, carrots, leafy greens and yams. Some foods to avoid are wheat, citrus, chocolate, shellfish, dairy and potatoes.

3. Eat for the Season – Anyone who’s had a treatment from me has had the discussion about why it’s important to eat locally and seasonally. Foods that are available in your region at any given point in time tend to contain the temperature properties that your body needs in that season. To stay balanced in the spring, it is good to start introducing sour foods back into your diet. This includes things like lemon, vinegar, berries, apricots, grapefruit, kiwi, tamarind and coriander. The liver also benefits from natural detoxifiers such as spinach, dandelion, green apple and kale. If you’re feeling tense, avoid alcohol and greasy or spicy foods.

4. Stabilize the Emotions – In TCM theory, the Liver channel is responsible for the unencumbered flow of emotion.  When liver qi stagnates it can cause emotional depression or a feeling of tension. If left unchecked, it can lead to anger, irritability, or rage and inhibit our judgment and ability to make sound decisions. In this period of expression, let no obstacle block you from the fulfillment of your desire. Relieve tension in the way your body responds best, avoid external stressors, and use the momentum of the season to execute the plans that most excite you.

5. Cover Your Neck – I always administer this piece of advice in the spring and fall. Spring is the season of wind and when the wind enters the body it can manifest as tremors, dizziness, muscle spasms, stiff neck and headaches. The easiest way to protect yourself is cover your neck. With drastic temperature swings from day to day, it’s hard to choose your outerwear, so keep your neck protected by wearing a scarf.

Have your own seasonal tips to share? Post them here! Embrace the change and have a happy healthy spring!

What is Cupping Therapy?

As more people seek natural healthcare alternatives, ancient therapies are making their way into the mainstream. Cupping, used frequently by acupuncturists to enhance their treatments, is one such therapy.  You might notice circular bruises peaking out of people’s tank tops or on display in a backless dress, raising the question of what exactly is cupping therapy and what does it treat?


Cupping is a method of treatment where de-oxygenated cups are applied to the skin, creating a vacuum, so that suction can be applied to strategic areas of the body. This suction helps to break up congestion or stagnation in the body, helping muscles to relax, fascia to release, phlegm to disperse, pain and swelling to diminish, and qi and blood to flow more freely through the channels.

Some common uses for cupping include:

Colds and Flu: Cupping is used to, break up mucus, ease coughs, address neck stiffness and chills, and disperse any lingering pathogens in the body allowing faster recovery and decreasing the risk of relapse.

Allergies, Asthma and Bronchitis: Cupping is used to address many disorders involving the lungs by unblocking the chest, decreasing accumulation of phlegm, and removing blockages that inhibit smooth breathing.

Musculoskeletal and Arthritic Pain:  Cupping helps to warm stiff muscles, address pain from traumatic injury and promote healing, reduce swelling and inflammation, and relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Menstrual Irregularities and Discomfort: Irregular menstruation, painful periods, PMDD, and PMS can range from temporarily debilitating to downright disruptive. Cupping is used frequently to address common menstrual disorders such as amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and symptoms of cramping, pain and headaches that frequently accompany a women’s monthly cycle.

GI Disorders: Healthy digestion is fundamental to the overall health of our bodies. Cupping can be used in conjunction with your acupuncture treatments to address a range of gastro-intestinal disorders including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomachaches, and indigestion.

Skin Disorders:  More and more people are turning to Chinese medicine to address skin disorders that are complicated to treat. Cupping therapy, often in combination with herbal therapy, can be used in the treatment of challenging skin disorders including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Short of some temporary bruising, the risks from cupping therapy are minimal and the rewards can be great. With such a versatile range of benefits, cupping is a valuable adjunct therapy to your acupuncture treatments.

Three Great Reasons to Try Acupuncture Today!

“Life is not merely being alive, but being well.” – Marcus Valerius Martialis


Curious about acupuncture but not sure how it might benefit you?  Here are three great reasons to give it a try:

1. Stress: When it comes to our health, we all have our own set of unique vulnerabilities to which we are predisposed. When extenuating circumstances, or even just the hectic pace of our lives become overwhelming, the stress we are absorbing will oftentrigger a series of undesirable symptoms or cause long-term disease to flare up. Acupuncture helps to remove unwanted tension and promote a smooth flow of energy, so that stress does not have the chance to build up in the body and cause our natural physiological processes to slow down or malfunction.  It also elicits a deep relaxation response, allowing us to repair while the body rests.

2. Sleep: Sleep is one of the most vital keys to good health and vitality and eight hours is the recommended length of sleep per night.  How much sleep are you getting?  And what is the quality?  Do you feel rested when you wake up? By getting to the root of what is disturbing your sleep, acupuncture and herbal medicine can be used to improve both the quantity, and more importantly the quality of your sleep, ultimately resulting in an overall improvement of energy, mental acuity, and health throughout the day.

3. Digestion: What’s happening with your digestion is indicative of your body’s overall ability to function smoothly. Constipation, diarrhea, reflux, gas, bloating, and cramping are all symptoms alerting us to a deeper imbalance occurring in the body.  By looking to the cause, rather than just the symptoms, acupuncture, dietary awareness, and herbal medicine are excellent natural tools to improve digestion, thereby supporting smooth bodily function and improving our overall health and wellbeing.

Bonus Reason #4: Mention this post when you schedule your next appointment and get $10 off.

A list of conditions currently accepted by the World Health Organization as treatable with acupuncture can be found at: